Bushmen’s public appeal to end government persecution

Gana Bushman leader and spokesman Roy Sesana, President of the Bushman organisation First People of the Kalahari (FPK), in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana.
Gana Bushman leader and spokesman Roy Sesana, President of the Bushman organisation First People of the Kalahari (FPK), in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana.
© Lottie Davies/Survival

Botswana’s Bushmen have held a press conference in the country’s capital to demand an end to government persecution of the tribe.

Bushmen spokesmen Roy Sesana, Mangana, Keikabile Modogu and Jumanda Gakelebone told journalists that they were appealing to the government to meet with the Bushmen to discuss the continued abuses of their rights by government forces.

Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) were forced from their homes in three waves of evictions from 1997 to 2005. In May 2013, the government attempted to evict Bushmen from another community, Ranyane, which lies outside the reserve.

Despite court rulings that the forced removal of Bushmen is unlawful, government authorities have continued to harass the Bushmen nationwide, making their lives virtually impossible.

The majority of the CKGR Bushmen are now forced to apply for permits to enter their home in the reserve. Families are separated under a system akin to South Africa’s apartheid-era pass laws: only the applicants specifically named in the court case can move freely in and out of the reserve.

Alongside the restriction of their movement, Bushmen are prevented from hunting inside the CKGR, a fundamental part of their livelihood, and the government refused to reinstate the Bushmen’s only water borehole in the reserve after it was dismantled by government forces during the last wave of evictions.

Bushmen told Survival, ‘Preventing our children from living freely with their parents inside the CKGR is against our human rights. We’re asking the government to meet with us face to face to finally discuss these issues that we cannot abide by anymore.’